This is the stunning photo that I took of the light from the sunset while my family was out walking the pets Monday night. Isn’t it something? We’ve been trying to get out and walk together as a family on the evenings so that we can have time to chat and be outside and get some exercise. It had been a much warmer than average day. We hovered around 50F all afternoon. A chill was just beginning to close in on us as we walked through our sleepy neighborhood before dinner. The dogs were loving the new smells to be uncovered under the freshly melted snow. We were all cozy in our jackets. Imagine the peace and stillness that a sight like this would instill in your heart.
Now smash the stillness to bits.
At some point on our walk, Daughter chose to pick up a stick and start flailing it about. Since we have a puppy, this is not a good plan as it makes the puppy jump and run. The puppy is about as graceful as I am, which means she often lands on her side instead of her feet. This is a situation to avoid on cold concrete, so Husband gently told daughter to leave the stick. She didn’t. He told her, only slightly more firmly, mind you, to put it down. Her reply was a loud, sharp, and sarcastic “SORRY!” complete with nasal huff.
If you are a parent, you may respond in any number of ways to this type of behavior. My response was, “Come here. Now. You do not speak to your father or anyone in that tone. When we get home, you will pull a job from the jar. Carry on.” We have tried a lot of systems for making sure that Daughter has consequences to her actions. Over all we use the Love & Logic approach to parenting created and popularized by Dr. Jim Fay. It’s something I love as a parent and a teacher, but there are situations in which it wasn’t helping me, such as this. We recently instated the “job jar” which holds strips of paper on which are written chores that Daughter would normally not be responsible for. To be honest, they’re mostly things that are small and irritating and that I hate to do. Clean the toilet in the master bathroom. Wipe down all the kitchen cabinet doors. Dust the many books. That sort of thing. It is working, and it is simple because all I have to do is say, in essence, here’s what you did that isn’t ok, now grab a job. The end.
The downside to this is that Daughter is highly emotional, so the rest of our walk was punctuated with sobs and sniffles. Heavy sighs. Huffs. Kicked snow. Peaceful walk? Not anymore!
This is what we do as parents, though. We help our children see that they need to be functioning members of society, and to be that they need to know how to behave. They need to understand that their actions have consequences, and they’re not always good. Our kids need to know when here being mean. They need us to say when they’re hurtful or aggressive or behaving in a way that is otherwise unacceptable.
I’m not trying to be on a soapbox here. I’m a firm believer in everyone knowing the best way to do things for their child. This is the best thing that I know to do for my little one. She will know that her actions have consequences, both positive and negative. Daughter will know that when you are kind, people take notice. When you do your best possible work, sometimes you get a bonus or even a raise. My kid will also learn that when you yell at your boss, you get more work or you get fired. So far, she hasn’t been fired, but she’s not a teenager yet.